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Head to a Station Casinos property near you to enter one of the many contests they’re offering for the football season.

They’ve spiced things up a bit with the popular Great Giveaway, as in waving the $25 entry fee and charging nothing. It’s now called “Gridiron Glory.” The overall prize has been reduced to $750,000, but it’s still the largest piece of cash ever offered for free in a Las Vegas sports contest I can remember.

Changes and incentives include being able enter selections for each matchup in the contest right up until game time. You no longer have to have Monday’s selection in when the 10 a.m. games kick off Sunday, and you can also play Thursday’s games.

Best of all: Each contestant only gets one entry, which does away with the matrix several contest clowns ran using hundreds of entries round-robining all the possible combinations.

All entries will still be made at the convenient kiosks open 24 hours a day. The contest will also have a qualifying format that will allow you to make the postseason and play for cash against a much smaller pool. The playoffs will feature the games and totals as well as mixing in some props to get betting options close to what is offered during the regular season.

Official Gridiron Glory rules will be posted soon.

Also returning is every local bettor’s favorite elimination contest, “Last Man Standing” for both college and pro football. Entry fee is $25 each and if you buy four you get one free. Each week you’ll pick one game against the spread. If you win, you stay alive and move on to the next week. If you lose, that entry is done for the contest.

The last person standing in the college football contest wins a guaranteed $40,000 and in the pros it’s a guaranteed $75,000. Any entry fees gathered that exceed the guarantee amount will be added to the pot.

If someone manages to win both contests, Station will reward that stellar handicapper a bonus of $135,000 on top of the $115,000 already won from the contests.

MLB intensity picking up: Take the Mets. Their nasty pitching rotation has elevated them into first-place in the NL East. Even though they’re last in baseball with a .237 batting average, they make up for the offensive deficiencies by doing all the little things right, like moving runners over. They are most confident at home with a 38-18 record. The passion of the fans at Citi Field has been intoxicating and reminds one of 1985 at Shea Stadium when the young Mets squad was learning how to win.

The same thing is going on at PNC Park with the Pirates fans. Pittsburgh is 39-18 at home, and despite making the playoffs as a wild card the past two seasons they’re still hungry enough to make their voice count. The Bucs are looking for their first division title since 1992. They just got done sweeping the Dodgers, which included ending Clayton Kershaw’s 37-inning scoreless streak on the first batter he faced. That gave Pittsburgh a club record 11 sweeps on the season.

Pittsburgh hits the road this week at NL Central leading St. Louis and then at the Mets, which makes it three straight series the Pirates will have played against first-place teams. At the end of the season we might be able to point back to this current stretch of games and call it either the catalyst or demise to Pittsburgh’s eventual results.

Toronto hasn’t experienced the playoffs since 1993 when winning the second of back-to-back World Series titles, but its fans have been giving off some huge energy lately after acquiring Troy Tulowitzki and David Price before the trade deadline. The Jays were leading baseball by scoring 5.3 runs a game, but after the trade they instantly had this swagger about them. And after sweeping the Yankees on Sunday they had won eight straight and 11 of 12.

Talk about hungry, take what is happening at Wrigley Field where Cubs fans haven’t seen a World Series winner since 1908. They just got to witness their loveable Cubs sweep the defending World Champion Giants four straight. The 62-48 record would put Chicago in first-place in four divisions, but they’re third in the NL Central, 8.5 games behind St. Louis.

It’s only mid-August, but it feels like September thanks to some of the passionate fans trying to will their teams to new heights. It’s been a pleasure to watch.

Micah Roberts is a former Las Vegas race and sports book director, one of The Linemakers on , and longtime motorsports columnist and sports analyst at GamingToday. Follow Micah on Twitter @MicahRoberts7 Contact Micah at [email protected].

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